pilots listening to presentation
Pilots from all over California attended the 73rd Annual CAAA Convention, October 24–26, 2022. (Photos: Jon Slikker, Jr.)

Jon Slikker Jr., Aerial Applicator, Vince Dusters

John Slikker Jr.

Pilots from all over California attended the CAAA 73rd Annual Convention, October 24-26, 2022, for regulatory updates and the latest in aerial application technology. Much like our ability to accurately apply crop protection materials to fields, we must expertly navigate our way through political pressure and regulatory brick walls. Monterey, California seems to be an excellent location symbolically.

Aerial Applicators (or Ag Pilots) attended informative sessions to expand their knowledge about the crop protection materials to better protect our food supply and the environment. We received updates in wireless GPS and guidance systems to increase application accuracy and learned about new spray boom technology to allow us to make those more precise applications that improve coverage and minimize off-target movement. The new and experienced pilots participated in the ComPAASS Rose and PAASS sessions. These sessions are developed by the National Agricultural Aviation Association. ComPAASS Rose helps new pilots to better understand the complexity of the job with advice and mentorship of the older generations of pilots. The PAASS program is a 4-hour session developed by Ag Pilots to increase application accuracy and safety.

Along with all the learning and education opportunities, there is plenty of time to play and socialize. The exhibit hall was filled with exhibits that showed off the new advancements in technology while providing a great environment for reconnecting with pilots and friends from different regions in California.

Along with all the learning and education opportunities, there is plenty of time to play and socialize. (Photos: Jon Slikker, Jr.)

Like many ag-related industries, we are facing the challenge of the consolidation of businesses and a need for new pilots as our experienced pilots are retiring. Businesses and pilots alike are rallying to cover the shortfall coming. You may see fewer Aerial Applicators available in your area, but rest assured the surviving businesses are equipping themselves with the necessary tools and equipment to maintain a timely high level of service.

The fragile habitat the otters in Monterey Bay thrive in is like California agriculture to us aerial applicators. We are environmentalists, business professionals, community members, and families. We depend on agriculture and a safe and sustainable method of providing a high-quality food supply to our fellow Californians and others around the world. When you take a trip to the grocery store, please know that an aerial applicator was instrumental in providing that quality food item and that the farmer worked hard and thoughtfully to provide a safe product for you.

If you’d like to know more about becoming an aerial applicator, feel free to contact Jon at Jon.Slikker.Jr@gmail.com or call 1-661-979-7503.

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